Felt bikes began out of the need for speed – and they haven’t slowed down yet. Jim Felt was working as a mechanic for the famed motor cross racer, Johnny O’ Mara. Johnny O’Mara trained for his motor cross races by participating in triathlons. He came to Jim with the request for a bike specifically geared for his triathlon. He asked the right guy, as Jim had some amazing ideas for seat height and aerodynamics he was itching to put together. His ideas proved to be excellent, improving O’Mara’s speed in his next few triathlons.
Eaton Sports got wind of the amazing Jim Felt and he began working with them. He continued putting bikes together, producing a huge win for himself and Paula Newby-Frasier in the 1991 Kona Ironman which she won. It was after this win that Jim Felt started his own company.
In 1994, Jim Felt partnered with Answer Products to produce bikes. By 2000, a need to expand and a difference of opinions caused Felt to dissolve the relationship. He reintroduced the company a year later with a new team and a new dream. Thus a biking legend was born.
The new team consisted of Felt and two longtime friends. Michael Mϋllman and Bill Duehring. Michael Mϋllman was a distributor in Europe with a long list of clients. He was made the President in Europe. Bill Duehring was a veteran in the biking world with global supplier ties. He was made the President in the U.S. And so, combining their drive and desire, the three began Felt Bicycles in 2001. Their motto was to “build a bike brand dedicated to technology, innovation and quality”.
Felt headquarters is located in Irvine, California but has distribution to 27 different countries. Felt bikes are manufactured in Asia – namely Taiwan – but the magic happens at the headquarters. Jim Felt is a hands on owner. He is a part of every decision made in the bikes design process. And this process is far from how bike making is usually done. The usual process is to design and build a bike and test its aerodynamics, speed, etc. once made. Not at Felt. At Felt, the design team makes a prototype – testing its aerodynamics, the yaw and every possible scenario – because no one rides a bike in a sterile lab set up.
Once the bike is at its peak, it is then laid into the carbon molds. The bike is put together and tested again. It is also tested by a few select testers – former Olympians – as well as members of the Felt team. All the input from all the sources is put together and gone over before any type of production has begun. When they are completely satisfied, and only then, is a bike put into production.
This may seem like a fairly quick process but it is not. Every tiny detail is checked, tested and re-tested. Every possible scenario from the largest to the smallest is taken into consideration. These are a functioning work of art.
In the beginning of Felt bicycles, the design was key. The design effected every part. Designing and delivering the best bicycles in the world – an idea that has not changed. They have taken technology to its limits, using every available resource and idea possible. Felt uses CFD technology which is Computational Fluid Dynamics. This is the same technology used for racing yachts and Formula 1 racing. Engineers can see and analyze the wind flow and pinpoint what areas are causing drag. Once these areas are pointed out, these areas are confirmed in the wind tunnel and changes can be made to reduce drag. The yaw, or wind angle, is also considered and all the bikes are able to perform in the 5 to 15 % range – which is much more realistic. Wind is not always head on. By harnessing the effectiveness of CFD technology, engineers are also able to try different frame designs, wheel designs, and nearly every other aspect of the bike. This is not a quick process – the math involved would make your skin crawl and each aspect analyzed takes about 6 to 7 hours to configure. It is all well worth it to assure the best possible bicycle. In the end, the rider is gifted what Felt calls “free speed”. This is due to being able to make a bike that is just as light and stiff as the competition but due to aerodynamic prowess, enables the rider to gain more speed with less effort. This is only possible because of Felts intense testing.
The process, the three steps of wind tunnel checking the prototype, CFD and recheck of the wind tunnel, and an actual riding evaluation by experts, results in a bicycle unmatched by any other. This same process goes into the DA time trial bike, Tour de France proven AR aero road bike, and TK series track bikes. They are all put through intense scrutiny to assure the best, fastest and top-of-the-line quality bicycle.
Though the average person may not have the need for a top of the line racing bike, there is still a Felt bike available for the average rider. Their line of bikes cover the casual rider, track rider, fitness buff, lifestyle rider, cross country, mountain, cruiser, triathlon, and electric. Whatever your need, there is no doubt, that Felt has a bike to fit it. All Felts bikes are made with the utmost attention to detail and quality. There are over 140 different models – all made to the highest possible standards. Each bike fits your personal need, but in the most efficient, technologically advanced way.
Jim Felt started out by answering the call for speed. He has never stopped since and continues on the quest to remain at the top. Sacrificing nothing in his quest for the best, Jim Felt has a history of award winning bikes that surpass all others. There is no looking back, except for improvements sake, but instead, the focus is on refining bikes through the use of ever advancing technology, constant testing and trials, user feedback and undeniable results. Jim Felt and Felt Bicycles will continue to push the limits in order to produce the very best, most efficient, quality, fastest bikes for the world.
So there you have it, the unofficial story of Felt Bicycles. I hope you learned a thing or two that you didn't know before. Leave a comment below and let me know, have you got a Felt? Maybe you've ridden one or had a good experience? Or maybe you are interested in getting one?
We are still running a deal on the signature Felt Aero Road AR3 Bike, check it out here.